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NFL writer ranks Brian Hoyer ahead of Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, Carson Wentz

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The 49ers offense has questions, particularly around the offensive line, but it could be moderately interesting in year one.

The San Francisco 49ers are set to enter the 2017 NFL season with Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback. It appears to be a short-term solution, while the 49ers figure out if C.J. Beathard or somebody else is the long-term solution.

However, there is some reason for optimism about a moderately decent 49ers offense in 2017. Hoyer has bounced around the league as a journeyman quarterback, but in 2014, he had a decent amount of success in 13 starts for the Cleveland Browns. Kyle Shanahan was the Browns’ offensive coordinator that year. Hoyer benefited from a strong offensive line, but considering the lack of weapons around him, it was an impressive performance.

One NFL writer sees the potential for some good things in Hoyer. Brad Gagnon writers for Bleacher Report, The Comeback, and a host of other sites. He ranked out the 32 likely starting quarterbacks for 2017, and dropped Hoyer in at No. 21. It’s interesting that Gagnon ranked Hoyer ahead of Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, and Carson Wentz, among others. He had this to say about Hoyer:

He’s joining his fourth team in as many years, which basically confirms that he’s a career backup journeyman. But he did have six touchdown passes to zero interceptions and a 98.0 rating in five starts with the Bears last season. His numbers haven’t been bad the last couple years, actually, and he has a winning record in his career.

I don’t think this means we’re going to see some hugely dynamic offense in year one, but if Hoyer can stay healthy, the 49ers offense could be moderately decent.

The team made intriguing decisions with the quarterback position this year. They signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in free agency, traded up into the back end of the third round to draft C.J. Beathard, and signed Nick Mullens as an undrafted free agent.

Hoyer makes sense in the short term given his history with Kyle Shanahan, and the lack of many quality options for what Shanahan and GM John Lynch are looking to do in the rebuilding process. Beathard surprised most of us, but Shanahan was high on him this year, so we make of that what we will.

I always look back to that strong year in Cleveland as a reason to think, maybe 2017 won’t be so awful. I don’t think it means we’re going to see a playoff team, but it’s one reason the OVER on 4.5 wins is at least a little bit intriguing. His success in Cleveland was in part because of a strong offensive line (prior to Alex Mack’s injury that year), and we don’t exactly know what the 49ers have in store for their offensive line.

The offensive line is a question, but there are some intriguing skill position players on the roster, particularly as compared to that 2014 Browns squad. Their leading wide receivers were Andrew Hawkins (63 rec, 824 yards), Taylor Gabriel (36 rec, 621 yards), and Miles Austin (47 rec, 568 yards), with tight end Jordan Cameron catching 24 passes for 424 yards. Their leading running backs were Terrance West (673 yards), Isaiah Crowell (607 yards), and Ben Tate (333 yards).

The 49ers offensive line is still being sorted out with all the additions this offseason. But if that group comes together, the 49ers skill positions seem like an upgrade over that group. Maybe we see something interesting!